The notion of a dealership’s employees having ownership of the organization's customer lists or communications is a frightening one. The question of ownership of work product, email, and even actual customer lists is being called into question by to BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policies being adopted by many businesses, including auto dealerships. A 2010 US Supreme Court ruling declared 9-0 that employees are not entitled to privacy if they use an employer’s issued device. The ruling did not, however, establish ownership or privacy rights of employee owned devices accessing corporate data or systems. The implication of this ruling could mean that employers do not have rights or ownership to company data if it was accessed and stored locally on employee computers with the company’s permission.
"Data ownership and access to sensitive customer files should be a key concern for dealerships," says Erik Nachbahr, President and Founder of the Baltimore-based Helion Technologies, a managed information technology provider for auto dealerships."Many auto dealers encourage employees to access their corporate computer systems with employee owned laptops to help control costs.
While expense control is always important, this practice leaves dealerships vulnerable to unauthorized access or theft of customer lists or even financial data," says Nachbahr.
Given the murky nature of data ownership issues, dealerships should evaluate and clarify their BYOD device policies, recommends Nachbahr.